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Gem of the Week: “Taking Pictures Of You” By The Kooks

21 Jan


My gem this week goes to “Taking Pictures Of You” by The Kooks, a british band my best friend asked me to check out.

Since I mostly listen to hardcore rock this bands brit-pop style is a guilty pleasure.

I’m really glad I gave it a chance because I love “Taking Pictures Of You” and the more I listen to it the more it lingers in my head.

The song is off the bands third studio album Junk of the Heart (2011)

I have been listening through that whole album this past month and I like it overall. As for the rest of the tracks on the album you can sense a lot of heart are in all of the songs.

I also think The Kooks actually have a bit of a quirky indie vibe to them.

What makes this song more of a  gem is the relatable lyrics that pull you into the songs mood.

Below is the link for “Taking Pictures Of You” shared from Alex Nunez’s You Tube Channel.

Gem of the Week: Heavy Metal Cover Band “Mac Sabbath”

14 Jan


My gem this week gives props to L.A. based heavy metal act Mac Sabbath, a smart twist for a Black Sabbath cover band.

Last week I checked out the mega trending parody for “Iron Man” called “Frying Pan,” on Facebook and found it oddly genius. I think anything involving Black Sabbath can never be uncool plus heavy metal and fast food are now more closely related than I could have ever imagined.

I initially thought the idea was ridiculous but after I took in the whole act while paying attention to lil’ touches like the horns on Mayor McCheese, the dark clever lyrics about fast food and heavy metal theme, it ties into a crazy well thought out concept. I have to admit I was curious enough to watch it and I now conclude that Mac Sabbath is a hilarious success. I can also see their live shows turning into a lot of fun so they could have a good thing going here.

I also love the whole demented revamping of the McDonald’s characters and I’ve always considered Ronald McDonald’s character as too creepy for kids. Mac Sabbath on the other hand totally embraced his creepy side and turned him into a heavy metal clown, I’m lovin’ it.

You can check out more videos for the band on their official Facebook page.

Below is the link for “Frying Pan” shared from Mike Odd’s You Tube channel.

Gem of the Week: “Living in Darkness” by Agent Orange

7 Jan


My gem this weeks goes to the album Living in Darkness by California surf/punk band Agent Orange. This is one of those albums I love in its entirety!

The band released the album in 1981 and it was their debut. However, the album that I have is the 1992 reissued version which has extra tracks and a band interview included.

I bought Living in Darkness over 14 years ago in a used CD section at a music store. I remember I had grabbed the album in exploration and decided to pop it in and listen to it. I let the first track “Bloodstains” play for a few seconds and I liked it so much that I knew It was unnecessary to listen through the rest and bought it.

Those type of explorations was something I loved doing back then and that habit helped me stumble into some of the best music I have ever heard. Agent Orange is a find that has been such a gem in my music collection.

I can listen to the tracks on Living in Darkness over and over and sometimes it’s cool to revisit stuff I have not listened in a while and reflect on how awesome the music is all over again.

Hearing tracks like  “No Such Thing”, “Living in Darkness” and “Bored of You” vent it all out for me. This album also includes awesome Dick Dale covers of “Pipeline” and “Miserlou.”

Vocalist/guitarist Mike Palm sings in that true hardcore punk and uncompromising nature. I love when a singer can deliver their aggression in raw manner.

Agent Orange has an official band page on Facebook and they are still around and even currently touring.

Below is the link to listen to the whole album shared from Saufsoldat1994’s You Tube channel.

Gem of the Week: “With a Little Help From My Friends” By Joe Cocker

24 Dec


My gem this week goes to one of the most notable Beatles covers of “With a Little Help From My Friends” by the late rock legend Joe Cocker.

As a classic rock fan I was sad to hear the news that Cocker passed away on Monday at age 70.

Though he is a legend before my time, I know he’s distinguished for his rock/blues covers and raspy vocals but I have always loved his popular cover of “With a Little Help From My Friends,” and so this week I definitely wanted to reflect on it.

Cocker’s vocals are pretty distinctive, raw and I do love the raspy quality. I feel his passionate vocal delivery fit the mood and lyrics of the song giving it strong impact.

I think it’s also safe to say he is an artist that took a cover and made it his own because his version made its mark in rock history.

According to an article on, it was Cocker’s 1969 performance of this cover at the Woodstock music festival that really put him on the map.

I’ve watched the Woodstock performances many times and Cocker’s is one of my favorites.

I remember this song was also used as the theme to 80s coming of age sitcom The Wonder Years. My best friend who is Beatles fan loves this cover too. We carry memories of quoting the lyrics to this song and it reminds us of how we use to make fun of the sitcom.

I think it’s awesome when a musician can have that moment such as Cocker’s Woodstock performance where it became this lasting impression for rock music fans.

Below is the 1969 Woodstock clip of Cocker’s performance shared from Richie C’s You Tube Channel.

Gem of the Week: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” by Barenaked Ladies ft Sarah McLachlan

17 Dec


My gem this week goes to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” by Barenaked Ladies featuring Sarah McLachlan.

As we near the holiday I like to get into the mood and  reflect on the best versions of Christmas classics; the more offbeat than traditional the version is the more I’m drawn to listening to it.

This song was off of the bands Christmas album Barenaked for the Holidays (2004). The album is decent if you like their style. I actually am not a big fan of their music in general but I have to give them props for making this a great cover. The mix of their quirky style with McLachlan’s angelic voice create the catchy and acoustic gem it is.

Last year I mentioned this one as a favorite in my post titled Less Overplayed Christmas Songs but this year I felt it deserved more focus.

Below is the link for the song shared from Nettwerkbackstage’s You Tube channel.

Gem of the Week: “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx

3 Dec


My gem this week goes to the hip-hop ’08 jam “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx featuring T-Pain.  The song is from Foxx’s third studio album Intuition. (’08)

It’s been a while since I’ve heard it but I noticed it still has that lingering effect on me.

“Blame It” broke down everything I typically disliked in new school hip hop songs like T-Pain’s auto tune effect.

I also like the official music video as it features one hell of a party filled with random celebrity cameos from Ron Howard to Samuel L. Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal.

In general I have been a fan of Foxx as an actor/comedian since his days on the 90s sketch comedy series In Living Color. While I do not particularly follow his musical career I still vote “Blame It” as his catchy club pop gem.

Below is video for “Blame It” shared from JamieFoxxVEVO You Tube channel.

Gem of the Week: “One Armed Scissor” by At the Drive-In

26 Nov


My gem this week is an oldie hardcore hit from 2000 called “One Armed Scissor” by At the Drive-In.

My best friend discovered this song and bought the album Relationship of Command. Since she knew I loved this style of hardcore she couldn’t wait to have me check it out.

I remember her first playing it for me in her car and I took in its powerful whiny rock impact. I loved it and I listened to the lyrics and I especially liked the verse:

dissect a trillion sighs away

will you get this letter

jagged pulp sliced in my veins

I write to remember

’cause i’m a million miles away

will you get this letter.”

After hearing it for the first time, I turned to my friend and told her it was a dam good song and we replayed it!

Of course it became our hit because we loved everything about it and we listened to it each time we got in her car. I think we just could not help it.

This song was the bands most recognized hit as it had fair radio play but in 2001 the band members split off forming two other bands, Sparta and The Mars Volta.

I did find an official website for the band, they are also on Twitter. It seems like a reunion was taking shape but nothing was listed regarding new music or a tour.

Below is the video for “One Armed Scissor” shared from Dalitostroke’s You Tube Channel.

Gem of the Week: “Wild in the Streets” by Circle Jerks

19 Nov


My gem this week goes to the album Wild in the Streets (1982) by hardcore punk band Circle Jerks.

The band is from L.A. and are a great old school punk band. Frontman Keith Morris was originally the vocalist and co-founder of hardcore band Black Flag before he founded Circle Jerks.

Sometimes I just have to pop in this album to get through a crap day and it’s one of my favorites in my collection.

The entire album has an uncompromising mood and vents through common frustrations. The tracks I listen to the most are: “Leave Me Alone” which says it all, “Trapped,” “86’d (Good as Gone) and “Letter Bomb.”

I think Morris has a great voice made for venting as his lyrics seem to roll off the tongue.

So far I have never disliked any band Morris has been a part of. His most recent project is a band he formed in 2010 called Off! According to the band’s website, their latest album release is Wasted Years (2014) and the band is also currently touring.

I listened through Wasted Years and I think Morris can still crank out hardcore gems with Off! while staying rooted in his classic brash style.

Below is a link to listen to Wild in the Streets shared from R.A.C. and Roll Pride’s You Tube channel.